DETROIT -- Antti Tuomisto expected to hear his name called at some point during the 2019 NHL Draft.
The 18-year-old Finland-born defenseman was prepared to wait for as long as it took, but to his pleasant surprise his hopes were answered early on the second day of the draft. The Detroit Red Wings took Tuomisto in the second round (No. 35), higher than he was rated on most prospect lists.
"That was a great feeling," Tuomisto said at Red Wings development camp in June. "I thought I'd get drafted but I didn't have big expectations, so I was maybe a little surprised."
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The pick was almost a duplicate of when the Red Wings chose Germany-born defenseman Moritz Seider at No. 6. The picks gave them a pair of 6-foot-4, right-handed, European-trained defensemen who can also move the puck.
That wasn't an accident. Former Red Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright watched the St. Louis Blues defeat the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final and it solidified his conviction Detroit needed to get bigger on defense.
"You see the size of the guys on Boston and St. Louis, and we talked about that at length," Wright said. "They aren't just big, though. [Tuomisto] is a kid I liked all year because he's 6-foot-4 (190 pounds) and plays with a real bite to his game, but he's also a player.
"He's got good sense and he can play in the middle of the ice."
Unlike Seider, who played in the top German league last season and represented his country at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, Tuomisto has been playing in age-group competitions. At 17, he played 45 games for Assat in the Finnish U-20 league, where he had 35 points (nine goals, 26 assists).
"He's a big guy who can certainly fill out and he's a very good skater who plays with a natural bite," Red Wings director of European scouting Hakan Andersson said. "He's physical and he has a real good shot."
After attending rookie and training camps in the fall, Tuomisto will head back to Finland for what he expects to be one more season with Assat. In 2020-21, though, he plans to be playing college hockey in the United States.
"It's good hockey," he said. "It is North American hockey and there's an education on the side, which is a bonus for me. It is a good route, and that's the right fit for me."
A year in college will also give Tuomisto time to acclimate to the smaller rinks in North America, something he hadn't seen until development camp.
"I just need to learn," he said. "I have to keep educating myself."
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